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Strong Partnership Funds the 2021 Ataxian Athlete Initiative (AAI) for People with Ataxia

DOWNINGTON, PA, June 2021 - The Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), in partnership with the Burrows Hill Foundation, Catrike, The Texas Irish Foundation, Project Farma, and UVA Sun Systems, is pleased to offer adaptive cycling equipment through Ataxian Athlete Initiative (AAI). The AAI is a unique program providing adaptive cycling equipment to people with ataxia who have demonstrated a strong desire to stay healthy and fit despite their progressive disabilities.

"Catrike has been a longtime supporter of the AAI to provide trikes to people living with Ataxia. There is no thrill greater than the freedom of cycling, and we are proud to support empowering people of all abilities to enjoy the freedom our recumbent trikes provide”, said Mark Egeland, GM, Catrike. www.catrike.com

Ataxia is a debilitating neuro-degenerative disease affecting children and adults. Friedreich's ataxia (FA) is the most common of inherited ataxias, affecting balance and coordination and has symptoms such as vision and hearing loss and life shortening heart complications.

As the lead sponsor, The Burrows Hill Foundation generously provided 50% of the funding for the 2021 AAI.

Sam Hill, from The Burrows Hill Foundation www.burrows-hill.org, added, “The Burrows Hill Foundation is proud to be a part of the AAI’s important work. The AAI helps so many deserving applicants to take an active role in staying active and healthy”

AAI grants are administered through a competitive application process. Applicants research the most appropriate adaptive cycling equipment to suit their abilities and describe how such equipment would help them to reach their fitness goals and improve their quality of life.

The AAI has provided equipment for 81 individuals since 2009. In 2021, the AAI funded 5 grants for adaptive cycling equipment, including two Catrikes and three handcycles. The recipients are: Boston Gray of Huntsville, TX, George Guinto of Toronto, Canada, Cecil Williams of Chattanooga, TN, Chrysanthi Zouval of Pefki, Greece, and The Swaney Family of Pendleton, SC.

A 2021 AAI recipient, Chrysanthi Zouva from Greece said “I have been living with Friedreich’s Ataxia for more than 17 years now and one thing I insisted on since the day of my diagnosis was this: I will never stop moving and fighting! Thus began my fitness journey, which has not stopped ever since. . ., The opportunity to have my own handbike from FARA would be a necessary step to my independence and absolutely essential to do safely what I love and what empowers me to continue my FA journey, showing the way to other patients. It is a life-changing goal I dare to dream of!”

“The Ataxian Athlete Initiative provides an opportunity to further drive our patient-focused goal and reminds us why we come into work everyday. We are inspired by the recipients of this program, as they truly allow us to view the world through the patient lens,” said Tony Khoury, Executive Vice President, Project Farma. www.projectfarma.com.

Visit curefa.org/aai for more information and to view more photos of past recipients. The next application cycle begins in Spring 2022.

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